Can the fasting diet help with weight loss? In a recent episode of the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Michael Mosley, founder of the Fast Diet, explores fasting and its alleged ability to help people lose weight. Although Dr. Oz tweeted about the diet on Wednesday, he doesn’t exactly promote it, he simply provides information for the ‘fasting curious’.
Mosley believes that fasting or simplified eating can help with weight loss—essentially because ‘fasting’ in his books doesn’t mean food cessation, but limiting one’s food intake.
According to Mosely, a safe fast includes the following:
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids is import during a fast. Drinking water and staying hydrated can help ward off hunger; drinking water before a meal, specifically, can help stave off hunger pains.
- Limit eating times: Eating consistently at certain time frames might make the fasting diet easier. For example with a 12 hour fast, you can stop eating at night (i.e. 9 p.m.) and start eating again in 12 hours (9 a.m.). This is the perfect type of fast for beginners or for people who need flexibility with their eating schedules.
- Don’t starve yourself: Fasting isn’t about starving yourself, but you should limit calories/the amount of food you consume. For example, instead of your usual foot-long sub for lunch, swap it for something lighter and healthier, i.e. a salad and a fruit.
- Avoid munching on snacks: People often snack on unhealthy food in between meals (i.e. chips, candy, chocolate bars, etc.)—adding unnecessary calories to their diets. During fasting, stick to three meals a day, and cut out unhealthy snacks. Eventually your desire for excess sugar and carbs should decrease and your body will become healthier. Because you’re eating less food, remember to consume the recommended servings of fruits and veggies, and include protein and whole grains in your fasting diet.
- Don’t fast every day: If you’re a newbie, try fasting every other day rather than every day. Make sure to still follow a balanced diet on your ‘off’ days.
Fasting Diet and Science
According to an animal study published in Cell Metabolism, researchers discovered that occasional periods of a low-calorie diet that mimics fasting can improve immune and metabolic functions. Human beings who were fed similar diets (five days a month) showed beneficial health effects, although further research needs to be done to determine the mechanisms of the fasting dietary approach.
Brandhorst S, et al., “A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan,” Cell Metabolism, 2015 Jul 7;22(1):86-99; doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 Jun 18. PMID: 26094889.
“Health Effects of a Diet that Mimics Fasting,” National Institutes of Health web site, July 13, 2015; https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/health-effects-diet-mimics-fasting, last accessed April 28, 2016.
“What You Need to Know About the Fasting Diet,” The Dr. Oz Show web site, April 27, 2016; http://www.doctoroz.com/article/what-you-need-know-about-fasting-diet.